The musical "Dr. Sex" opened for previews Friday, Aug. 26 at the Peter Norton Space, home of Signature Theater, on 555 West 42nd St. The musical will run through Oct. 30. It was co-written by Larry Bortniker, a Hoboken resident, and Deering, a Weehawken resident who was a columnist first for the Hudson Reporter chain and later for the local daily.
The musical is loosely based on the life and the work of Dr. Alfred Kinsey, wife Clara, and their lover Wally. Kinsey was a Hoboken native.
The love triangle between the couple and their assistant comes about during research on human sexuality. According to Bortniker, the play is based on Kinsey's life, yet, "We've taken huge comic liberties with his life," said Bortniker.
Bortniker, who is also the musical composer and lyricist, came up with the idea after reading a book review about Dr. Kinsey. When he couldn't stop laughing, he thought it would make great material for a musical. Bortniker and Deering got together and wrote the first draft in Aug. 2001.
After several workshops, they took the musical to Chicago for a showcase production at the Bailiwick Repertory Theater in 2003. They got very good reviews and won seven Jeff Awards.
"While we were in Chicago members from the Kinsey Institute came to see the show," said Bortniker. "They gave us the thumbs up."
After their success in Chicago, the producer Richard Ericson, who saw a performance in Chicago, decided to bring the show to Manhattan.
The talent Brian Noonan, who played the Phantom and Raoul in the Broadway production of "Phantom of the Opera," stars as Dr. Alfred Kinsey. Jennifer Simard, who is a three time Drama Desk nominee for work in "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," "The Thing About Men" and "Forbidden Broadway," plays Kinsey's wife Clara.
Christopher Corts, who was in an early workshop production of the musical in L.A., plays Wally, the boyfriend. "What is so fabulous about these three is that they are funny and they have fantastic voices," said Bortniker.
"And they are great actors."
"And great comics," added Deering.
Other actors include: Jared Bradshaw, Linda Cameron, David Edwards, Christy Faber, Colleen Hawks and Benjie Randall.
The creators Larry Bortniker and Sally Deering, who have been working together for 15 years, said that even though it is a musical, it touches on some important issues.
"It's an all American story," said Deering. "The little guy becomes the big guy. Kinsey changes America. America was old-fashioned and Victorian. America changed because of Kinsey."
Yet even though the musical is about sex, it is a clean version.
"There are no four-letter words or vulgarity," said Deering. "It's got modern themes, but they are presented in an old-fashioned way."
"But I wouldn't say it's a family show either," said Bortniker. "Twelve and over."
"But you could go see the show with your mother or grandmother," said Deering.
"Just make sure they have a glass of wine first," added Bortniker.
Two acts Dr. Sex has two acts and is about two hours long. The musical has 15 songs in it with lots of dance numbers. "We always envisioned it to be a big dance production," said Bortniker.
Bortniker, who has been playing piano since he was 13, said that sometimes the music for the songs comes very quickly, but the lyrics take long.
"The lyrics drive the story," said Deering. "So they are very, very important."
Deering has a background in theater. As a young girl, she did a lot of theater and then moved into writing. For 12 years, she was a reporter and columnist, including for the Hudson Reporter Newsgroup, for which she won awards.
Behind the scenes Richard Ericson and Greg Young are producing Dr. Sex. Pamela Hunt (Musical of Musicals), will direct. And the choreography is by Mark Esposito, who has worked on 16 Broadway shows and First National tours. Patrick Vaccariello (Cabaret) is the musical supervisor.
According to Bortniker, there are nine people in the cast and six people in the band and all these other people that make a show happen.
"We hope we can get a similar response to the response in Chicago," said Deering.
Future plans If all goes well after the limited engagement, they hope to get an extended run in Manhattan and possibly go on tour.
The two are already working on their next project, a musical called Bombs Away. It is about songs that were once in Broadway musicals but were dropped. They plan to have it finished by the end of the year.
Dr. Sex opened on Friday, Aug. 26 and can be seen through Sept. 14, Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 and 7 p.m.
Beginning on Sept. 15, the schedule will remain the same, except that Tuesdays will be dark and there will be performances on Mondays instead. For more information please visit: www.drsexthemusical.com. For ticket information, call Ticket Central (212) 279-4200 or visit www.TicketCentral.com.